The Gamlingay Community Turbine

Energy for Gamlingay . . . and beyond

THE BIGGER PICTURE

Why do we need wind power anyway? To reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. There are big problems with fossil fuels. The most obvious are the CO2 emissions that threaten to cause serious climate change. In addition, fossil fuel prices are on a long term rise and we increasingly need to import them from countries on which we may not want to be dependent. Eventually, fossil fuels will run out, and we need to be prepared for a world where all energy must come from renewable sources.

Isn’t man-made climate change controversial? It depends what you mean by controversial. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists are convinced that it is a real danger. Of course, there are always opinions on the fringes and a few scientists are genuinely sceptical, but there are also climate scientists who think we are seriously underestimating the dangers. It is easy to confuse debate within science on issues such as how fast, where and how much global warming will occur as meaning there is widespread scepticism about the basic issue. There is not.

(Note also that whatever your views on global warming, the Gamlingay turbine is also financially good for the village. It will also will be a part of our dealing with fossil fuel dependence and the resulting economic and political problems.)

Wind turbines don’t produce power in low wind speeds so doesn’t there have to be a backup anyway? Yes. However any wind turbine will still reduce CO2 emissions because there will be less fuel burnt in fossil fuel power plants when it is generating power (most of the time). There is no doubt that electricity from wind turbines displaces the burning of fossil fuel.

Isn’t it better to put wind turbines offshore? In principle, yes, and the UK has a major programme of offshore wind farm construction. However, offshore wind is expensive and will still not be enough to create the CO2 reductions needed to meet Britain’s commitments and avert dangerous climate change. Sadly we do not have the luxury of ‘either/or’ decisions. In addition, offshore wind projects take time—time that we are running out of.

Won’t nuclear power provide enough electricity? No. There are new nuclear plants planned for Britain but older plants are also being decommissioned. The new plants will not be enough and will take a decade at the very least to be operational. We do not have enough time. Wind turbines like ours can be put into operation in a couple of years or less.